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Soldotna city council appoints Wackler to fill open seat

Chera Wackler
Sabine Poux
/
KDLL
Chera Wackler with council member Dave Carey at Wednesday's Soldotna City Council meeting.

The Soldotna City Council has appointed Chera Wackler to represent Seat F for the city through October.

Wackler fills the seat left by representative-elect Justin Ruffridge, who’s recent election to the Alaska State House District 7 seat left a vacancy on the six-member city council.

Soldotna got four applicants for the seat — Wackler, Julie Kincaid, Larry Opperman and Donica Nash. At interviews last night, Wackler told the city council she’s been closely following the inner workings of local government since she moved within city limits three years ago.

“The truth is, I’ve annoyed my husband to no end, listening to council meetings at the city, school district and borough with increasing frequency for the last three years,” she said.

Wackler has lived in Soldotna since 2008. Her roots on the peninsula are deep — she grew up in Nikiski and graduated from Kenai Central High School. She said she’s seen Soldotna blossom into a hub on the peninsula since then.

According to her application, Wackler is clinic director at Phormation Chiropractic in Soldotna and a member of 100 Women Who Care — a local group that pools donations to contribute to local causes.

Last summer, she founded the Peninsula Period Network, a nonprofit working to make menstrual products more accessible in Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools and reduce period stigma. The Peninsula Period Network received a mini grant from the city of Soldotna last August for a product drive.

“The true heart of the Network is the community,” Wackler said. “The more I get involved, the more I want to keep going.”

When asked about difficulties the community faces, Wackler pointed to annexation – the city’s attempt to incorporate 2.63 square miles of land around Soldotna.

The process was controversial. In 2020, the Alaska Local Boundary commission told the city if it wants to annex that area, it has to put the matter up to a vote.

Wackler said it’s important the city has enough revenue to work on projects that serve the whole community, like the Soldotna Field House project and waterfront redevelopment scheme.

“Because we do service a much larger area than what the city boundaries actually are,” Wakler said. “So, figuring out how to do the practical application of servicing, making those services happen without annexation, I think is going to be kind of one of the difficult aspects to kind of reconcile.”

Wackler’s term is an interim position and is up during the next municipal election, in October. Wackler said she sees the temporary role as an opportunity to see whether the job is a good fit, before deciding if she wants to run for a full three-year term. She said she hasn’t yet made a decision about whether she’d run again during the next regular election.

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at spoux@kdll.org.